Mr. Stevenson's distinct contribution to detective literature is Jim Godfrey--urbane, shrewd, level-headed reporter, who attacks each new mystery as eagerly as if it were his first. What a delight a detective who loves to detect is; and what absorbing secrets has Mr. Stevenson evolved for Jim Godrey, and the thousands who have followed his career, to solve.
"But what is it all about?" I questioned. "Why should that light descend every midnight? What is the light, anyway?"
"That's what I've brought you out here to find out. You've got four clear days ahead of you--and I'll be at your disposal from midnight on, if you happen to need me."
"But you must have some sort of idea about it," I persisted. "At least you know whose roof those figures were standing on."
"Yes, I know that. The roof belongs to a man named Worthington Vaughan. Ever hear of him?"
I shook my head.
"Neither had I," said Godfrey, "up to the time I took this place. Even yet, I don't know very much. He's the last of an old family, who made their money in real estate, and are supposed to have kept most of it. He's a widower with one daughter. His wife died about ten years ago, and since then he has been a sort of recluse, and has the reputation of being queer. He has been abroad a good deal, and it is only during the last year that he has lived continuou
Strange lights and bizarre doings at an estate in the Bronx take lawyer Lester and newsman Godfrey on their weirdest case yet. Is the "White Priest of Siva" involved a genuine mystic or a fake Hindu humbug?
I agree with previous reviews that this isn't the best of the series, but I disagree that maligns Hinduism — it merely exhibits the uninformed views of it that the average New Yorker of 1913 might have had, which ignorance, of course, is what enabled the crime to occur. That Lester can make no sense of Hinduism in his first reading about it is unsurprising — it is an extremely complex and diverse collection of sects, and Lester, as we've seen in the earlier books of the series, isn't the brightest of Watsons.
I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who hadn't read the preceding volumes, but if you liked those, this one is well worth reading, and suffers mainly in comparison to the excellence of The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet.
Considerable mystery but little actual detecting as we expect it. More of a thriller, in fact. Well written and fast-moving.
After reading the two previous disparate reviews, I have decided I agree with both of them.
I have been reading my way through the Godfrey/Lester series and have thoroughly enjoyed every entry except for this one. So, this review is sort of a conundrum for me. I don't review books I didn't like. I only review things I can wholeheartedly recommend. I think that negative reviews can be off-putting for those who come later looking for a good read. How many books might the searcher have enjoyed except that someone before him didn't like it and so he doesn't read it? It might have been perfectly to his/her taste. So I only review what I perceive as "good reads", following the old adage--if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
That being said, I am breaking my own rule. I am only reviewing this book because I've gone through the whole series, and I didn't feel I should just stop here.
So...here goes...there were parts of this book that I liked and parts that I really didn't like....
The book was written during the British Raj, and the British were, perhaps, a bit too full of themselves. They viewed Hindus as savages. That really turned me off. There is so much noble beauty in the Hindu religion that I hated to see it maligned by Colonel Blimp!
In this book, if the Yogi is a fakir/charlatan, he is a total villain. But if he is a true Hindu practitioner, he is a bestial (to say the least) monster. Well, there's a no-win situation!
The plot was sort of silly, and there were some funny moments. Consider men is business suits spending lots of time sitting up a tree. The visual tickled me. Also the open-air inquest was creative, and the solution was probably very imaginative for the time. This was the beginning of the "new" science of fingerprinting--very high tech!
Stevenson sets it up for a sequel, and I will no doubt read it if it becomes available--chiefly because I have read all the rest of the series, and I do like the protagonists.
If you have read the previous books in the series, I would say, "go for it," but on its own I wouldn't recommend it.
I found this very disappointing. The author wrote a series of five detective novels that featured crime reporter Jim Godfrey. This is one of the later entries in the series. Sadly, it has very little genuine mystery in it. It is also quite xenophobic, focusing on an evil practitioner of a nonsensical eastern religion. Concerning this fictitious religion, there is no authentic cultural background or information. Stevenson was a good writer, but this is not a very good book. I'm hoping the other entries in this highly regarded series are better than this one. This isn't bad, it's just not good. I was hoping for something much better.
Decent murder mystery involving yogis, hypnotism, crystals and other scary (for 1913) New Age stuff. The amateur sleuths are a former cop turned newspaper reporter and a lawyer.
There are some interesting scenes including a coroner's inquest held on the front lawn of the newspaperman's house only a short time after the murder victim was discovered.
There is another instance where the protagonists debunk the budding science of fingerprinting by showing how fingerprints can be duplicated with the aid of some chemicals and rubber gloves.
The only disappointment came near the end when the author sets up a sequel that may or may not have been written.
Still, this was a decent read for fans of the more genteel style of murder mystery.